Mike Fromowitz
Dec 13, 2012

Living the Digital Life

Up in the morningThey called me this morning at 7:45 a.m.I was at the kitchen table drinking my coffee, reading the news on my iPad, when the phone rang. I answered and heard this “canned’ voice. ...

Living the Digital Life

Up in the morning

They called me this morning at 7:45 a.m.

I was at the kitchen table drinking my coffee, reading the news on my iPad, when the phone rang. I answered and heard this “canned’ voice. These things tend to happen on a regular basis nowadays.

Annoying as hell.

Makes you wonder why anyone would assume that I, or anyone for that matter, would sit through a mechanized sales pitch this early in the morning.

I immediately hang up.

Imagine that. They call me for something I don’t need. Didn’t they do their market research? Do they do any at all?

I do not need the ducts cleaned in my home.

I do not need swimming pool service. Another telecom provider. A new roof on the house. Nor do I need another bloody bank card.

Do they think their offers excite me? Hell, I’m still half asleep.

Back on my computer again

I notice a guy who’s pushing a YouTube video on his blog—one that he found and that was most likely made in Russian.

Turns out to be a series of words that are at best illiterate. The site is advertising the “prettiest girls in Russia” who are “ready to be your next wife!”.

But I have a wife. I don’t need more wives. I’m not in the market for one. I’m not a customer.

Come to think of it, I bet that the people who are really making money on this site are the SEO and SEM folks promising 5,000, 10,000, maybe 20,000 hits in the next few days.

On the way to the office

I check my iPad. As usual, there’s a bunch of junk... anti-social media marketing.

There’s an ad for Belvedere Vodka posted on its Facebook page. It cheekily shows a smiling young man grabbing a frightened-looking woman under the headline: “Unlike some people, Belvedere always goes down smoothly.”

This ad suggests to me that there’s some severely impaired judgment coming from the brand’s marketing team. I notice the same ad is posted to Twitter. I wonder how the ad could have been posted in the first place. The ad also raises questions about the approval process behind some social media ad campaigns.

Social media is, in my opinion. one of the most powerful forms of media ever—if it’s used correctly. Yet marketers sold on social media’s low cost of entry have turned up like loud, uninvited gatecrashers at a party, interrupting invited guests chatting to each other, and being turfed out by the other guests. Is it any wonder then that many companies trying to get up close and personal with people are generally “loathed” rather than being “liked”?

Didn’t anyone see the new Forrester research report this year suggesting that users find mobile ads far more interruptive – and annoying – than those on TV?

Like most people, I’m very finicky about how I want to be advertised to. Mobile devices are such a highly personal experience, and being interrupted while checking email and using apps is not desirable. I remember the late Steve Jobs saying: "Mobile advertising really sucks". He wanted the new Apple iAd mobile advertising platform to serve up interactive ads that look more like entertainment (aka viral videos) instead of annoying flashing flash animation distractions.

Still, I believe mobile advertising can be a valuable tool as long as brands take advantage of mobile users' unique advertising preferences, and afford them the opportunity to shape how they're advertised to. And how about some really good offers to incentives them for doing so?

What’s my point?

The point is communications is not in the technology, the tools, or the medium. It’s in making a real connection with someone who is actually interested. The essence of communications remains as it always has been, that there are at least two parties who are keenly involved.  Imagine all those people who don’t think about how the person you are attempting to influence will receive your message! I’m dumbstruck. This is certainly not the best way to make a sale.

The Forrester research report notes that a great majority of people find digital advertising annoying. As I see it, the problem is not the medium, the problem is the message.

As the gap between information provided and people’s ability to digest it widens, the fight for people’s attention becomes crucial. Digital advertising needs to be trusted, wanted and needed if it is to avoid being screened out. It needs to go from the annoying to the amazing. Let’s fix this now!

My iPhone vibrates: more text messages

Text message ads can be just as annoying as app advertising. In the case of text messages, its very difficult, if not impossible, to unsubscribe from the damn things. At this point I would never buy from the companies that are texting  ads for things I don’t want or don’t need. I never asked for them in the first place.

Perhaps I need to change my phone number?  Cellular phones are highly personal; television is not!

I’m at the office

I’m sitting at my desktop checking for emails. This task seems to be taking up more and more of my time each day.  Ten minutes in, and I realize I need to make a new email strategy for 2013... even better, for the forthcoming decade.

I propose:

  • Not to accept chain emails.
  • No more dying child emails.
  • No more emails from the Bank of Nigeria alerting me that $30 million dollars has been deposited to an account in my name and all I have to do is send them my bank particulars so they can deposit it to my bank electronically.
  • No more “cure-all” emails from healers.
  • No more “send this to 10 people in 10 minutes or you will have bad luck all year” emails.

Ubiquity is the new exclusivity

Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimates that a person living in a city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day, compared with up to 5,000 today. In another of their surveys, almost half the 4,110 people surveyed said they thought marketing and advertising today was out of control.

Are we now dealing with an absolute sensory overload?  Has the combination of both traditional media and digital media created a landscape that is overly saturated?

Outright, advertising is just one contributing factor. The feeling of advertising ubiquity is also being fueled by the growth of digital devices. In office buildings, for instance, video screens in elevators provide news and information as well as ads. In some cities such as New York, digital screens have been placed in the back seat of about 5,000 taxicabs running ads and weather reports. In subway stations, video rules. Messages follow you up the escalators on LCD screens. Poster adverts can now be on display at a particular time of day. We can change the copy and creative on our adverts at the click of a switch. Ads are being projected on the side of buildings. Now, TV streams to your phone. Encyclopedias ask you to be their editors. Newspapers and magazines deliver stories to your toolbar. Movies and books stream to your tablet computers.

Yet one thing is undeniable. Consumers have more control than ever before. Now, customers and brands can engage each other directly.

New forms of advertising do take trial and error. And though no one wants to annoy the consumer, there are probably more annoying ads that sell products than ever before, and it’s very difficult to tell what annoys one consumer and what pleases another.

In an effort to break through the noise and clutter of the marketplace,  advertisers continue to look for new mediums and places that have not been used before, but in the end, we are creating more clutter than ever before.

We see as many advertising messages in a year as our parents saw in their entire lives. The problem for advertising people is that consumers are not interested in nearly as much as we'd like them to be.

It is all very well having all this new technology to produce ads, but the ads have to work, and they have to catch our attention to get their message across.

The bottom line—Push and Pull

“Pull marketing” is about engaging your prospects/clients/customers in a meaningful way that attracts them towards you. "Push marketing", on the other hand, is considered interruption marketing, and people just don’t like to be interrupted by ads selling things they don’t need. Besides, people now have more power than ever to filter your ad messages out with a simple flick of their remote control. They click to another website in a matter of seconds if they don’t see what they’re looking for.

If you don’t want to be ignored, Pull marketing must be part of your strategy. But to be effective, you must provide quality content and interactive experiences that attract your ideal prospects. You must also make it easy for them to find your content, to attract them, engage them and “Pull” them into your sales funnel.

This is not to say that you should get rid of all forms of “Push” marketing. The proper balance of the two will ensure that you’re not ignored in the current marketing landscape.

It’s 10:30 a.m.

I have to go to a meeting down the hall. Better remember to take my iPad and my iPhone. And pick up a coffee on the way— from our new digital and programmable coffee maker of course.

Mike Fromowitz



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